When you’re leading a team, it gets busy. Sometimes you take things for granted. It can be easy to overlook the way people in your team are interacting. Positive team behaviours are those that improve teamwork, good team spirit and efficiency. Bad team behaviours are clearly the opposite. They create friction, decrease productivity and cause stress.
When you see issues with bad team behaviours, you need to fix them, quickly. Failing to do so can result in divisions appearing within the team. This can only get in the way of effective teamwork.
1. Team members show respect for each other
Showing respect is one of the easiest team behaviours in many ways, but it has a big impact on teamwork. When your team members aren’t respectful to each other, small issues become large and tempers flare. Resentment slowly builds as each team member starts to see signs of disrespect. This might come from one person, or many.
Simple respectful behaviour includes saying hello, goodbye, please and thank you. You might remember being taught these in your childhood, or at school. How quickly some people forget! This also includes showing respect for other people’s time and skills. It might even mean apologising when you’ve made a mistake.
It’s not rocket science. But we need to make common courtesy a lot more common in the workplace.
You may have a problem with respect in your team if:
- You notice some team members dumping work onto others or failing to recognise the workload of colleagues
- Certain team members don’t appreciate the work of others in the team
- You notice some team members delegating tasks they feel are “beneath them” to other people who they see as less important
- More helpful team members become overloaded with work while others don’t offer to help at all
- “Please” and “Thank you” are foreign concepts to some team members.
2. Team members share the workload
The best teams I’ve worked in are those that share the workload, regardless of the role they play within the team. Team members are willing to pitch in and help, even if it’s not “their job”. This promotes a collaborative atmosphere which can really motivate team members.
They feel that they are part of something. That they’re “all in this together” and that somebody will help them if their in trouble. Support within a team is critical to employee engagement, and it doesn’t just come from the leader. You can learn how to better support your team in this post.
You may have a problem with sharing workload if:
- People are always saying things like “your job” or “your report” or “your deliverable” rather than taking a team view. They are distancing themselves from responsibility and blame. You want “your deliverable” to become “our deliverable” or “our team’s deliverable”
- People in one role are overloaded with work, while others are easily coping, without offering to help.
Sometimes, role boundaries become more obvious when team members feel that someone is not performing. They may be less inclined to help, because they feel that the team member is lazy, incompetent or otherwise incapable.
Leaders need to be wary of this. If they are letting poor performance fly under the radar, then leaders are likely to see clear boundaries between roles. Of course, there are some tasks that need to be performed by a specialist in the team. Not all work can be given to just anybody.
3. Team members give each other credit
One of the best team behaviours happens when team members openly share the credit for work, or publicly recognise each other’s contribution. It shows trust, a collaborative attitude and respect. It also demonstrates a less competitive mindset that may undermine the effectiveness of the team.
You may have a problem with giving credit in your team if:
- You notice a team member taking all the credit for work performed by multiple team members
- Team members take the “default credit”. They don’t openly claim the credit, but instead of identifying the contributions of others, they say nothing at all. While sometimes this could be an oversight, they may just be taking the credit on the team’s behalf, with no recognition.
4. Team members are helpful
Another great team behaviour to look out for is team members who help each other. Obviously, being helpful is a good thing, but if your team is not working well it can be one of the things that slowly fades.
When your team members offer to help colleagues with their tasks during busy periods, it’s a great sign that there is team harmony. Without helpful team members, balancing workloads can be tricky. Some team members may be overloaded with work, while others are easily able to cope.
You may have a problem with a lack of helpfulness if:
- Your team members adopt a “it’s not my job” mentality to the work of other team members
- There are no offers to help other team members when they need it. This may be a sign of an “every woman or man for themselves” attitude, which generally makes for an unhelpful team environment.
5. Team members take accountability
When your team is working well, team members are more likely to show accountability for their actions. They tend to take ownership of their work and have a greater sense of pride. In addition, you may notice team members start to hold others accountable too. After all, if your team is all in this together, then it matters that others are playing their part as well.
When your team members take accountability, it means you don’t need to take everything on yourself. Your team will play their part and take ownership of their work. Ultimately, you are responsible for what happens in your team, but it helps when your team cares as much as you do.
You may have a problem with accountability in your team if:
- Team members point fingers at each other to lay blame
- Team members plead ignorance, “I didn’t know I needed to do that”
- Your team members seem to lack commitment or motivation
- Team members use different language to keep them from being blamed. They begin speaking in terms of “your work” instead of “our work” or “our deliverable”. In other words, they are subtly letting everyone know that it’s not their fault!
There you have it. My five favourite team behaviours that point to team effectiveness and harmony. It’s difficult to see all of them working all the time, but as long as your team is improving, you’re on the right path.
You might notice some overlap between these team behaviours. But if you see these in your team, you might just be doing something right.